Tigers pick up elite QB recruit

The Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)January 28, 2009 

Phoebus High quarterback Tajh Boyd announces he will attend Clemson University during a press conference in Hampton, Va., Tuesday, January 27, 2009.


HAMPTON, Va. - After two false starts and a stunning all-star performance made him one of the top recruiting stories in the country, Phoebus High School quarterback Tajh Boyd announced Tuesday afternoon he has committed to Clemson.

Boyd revealed his decision during a press conference at the school. He plans to make it official on Feb. 4, the first day recruits can sign their letters-of-intent.

Seated before microphones at the Blue Phantom Inn, a student-operated restaurant, Boyd placed three hats in front of him — Ohio State, Clemson and Oregon, from left to right. After thanking God, his family and his coaches for their support, and without any trickery, Boyd put the Clemson hat on his head.

"I was undecided up until, like, 10 minutes ago," he said. "But I guess for the next four or five years of my college career, I'll be attending Clemson University. Really, you go with your gut instinct. And at the moment, I feel this is the school I should attend.

"I feel I'll have the chance to come in and compete early for an ACC championship and help the team out. I have a very good relationship with the coaches and I feel I can improve my game to the maximum potential. And I feel I have a shot to go to the NFL one day."

Tuesday's announcement capped a strange recruiting ride which started with his commitment to West Virginia in March of 2008. Seven months later, saying he didn't like the Mountaineers' offensive style, he re-opened his recruiting.

Boyd then committed to Tennessee on Nov. 1, but two days after that Vols coach Phillip Fulmer was fired. Fulmer's replacement, Lane Kiffin, called a month later to tell Boyd he wouldn't be a good fit for the program's new offense. So Boyd put himself back on the market again.

Boyd visited Ohio State and Oregon in December, and as the New Year began he appeared to be down to those schools. But Clemson, which a new coach of its own in Dabo Swinney, made a late run.

The Tigers' interest grew after Boyd's MVP performance in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3. They tried to line up a recruiting visit for the second weekend of January, but it didn't work out. A week later, Boyd and his family made the eight-hour drive to Clemson.

"It felt good, but you always feel good after a visit," he said. "So I wanted to go home and re-evaluate everything."

The final three fought it out. Coaches from Clemson were at the Boyd's home Monday night. Coaches for Oregon were in town Tuesday afternoon.

"It's been tough," he said. "The hardest thing is saying no, because all the schools are so great. I'm blessed, but at the same time it was a headache. I'm just glad I was able to choose the school I wanted to go to."

Boyd is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his torn ACL this morning, but he is optimistic of making a full recovery by the time preseason practice starts in August.

"I don't really want to redshirt," said Boyd, who plans to major in sports marketing. "If I have to, I will. I just want to come in and make an immediate impact."

With the departure of starter Cullen Harper, the Tigers return only one quarterback with any experience. Willy Korn, a rising sophomore, completed 26-of-38 passes last season and started one game. He's also had injury problems.

"You have to compete wherever you go, but at the same time you want to have that shot to compete," Boyd said. "I have surgery (this) morning, but as fast as I can get back, I'll be ready to compete.

"I think everything turned out well. I mean, it's kind of hard to say which school is going to be the right school. But hopefully, this will be the right school."

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